We all have different markers of success but, for me, being happy and satisfied with my work is the most important. Without this, it’s challenging to thrive in business.
If you find yourself not loving your work or becoming dissatisfied, the six characteristics of happy practitioners may help uncover the cause and direct you to the cure.
6 signs you’re a happy practitioner
1. Working in alignment with your values
What matters most to you in life? What are your ethics and drivers? One of the first exercises I suggest in mentoring, is to drill down your top 10 values and get clear on what your non-negotiables are.
Values are paramount, regardless of whether you’re an employee, on a contract or run your own business.
Though this process, some nature-loving practitioners have become aware of the impact of working in gloomy urban spaces. Or a collaboration-valuing clinician may rethink solo practice.
We’ll never be fully satisfied when our values aren’t aligned with how and where we work. Something will always not feel right, no matter how amazing the opportunity seems to others, or how much you earn.
2. Your practice is authentic and true to yourself
Authenticity can sound like a cliché but essentially it means being free to truly show up as yourself, not feeling like you “should” act in a certain way in your professional life.
A career can’t be satisfying unless there’s space to be yourself. Though this might take a few years in practice to build your confidence to really nail this. So be clear about your vision and work towards it.
3. You feel valued
Feeling valued is different to being aware of our personal values. It’s about the respect others show you, or being recognised in a way that’s personally meaningful. This might be about financial reward, professional or public recognition or positive feedback from clients. Or something unique to you.
If we feel taken for granted, irritated by the recognition others receive or think our clients are ungrateful for the time and effort we put into their care, it’s important to explore the other qualities mentioned in this article. For example, what’s out of alignment in your work or home life?
Always remember, how we value ourself can determine how others treat us. If you feel your clients, colleagues or profession (or others in your life) don’t respect or value your endeavours, first take a closer look at how you treat yourself.
4. You’ve nailed work-life balance
We can be hot on this topic with clients, but are you walking the talk? Solo practitioners often struggle to balance work and personal time. Common complaints include writing client notes or researching information for a new patient at the end of a long work day, or receiving emails, texts or calls when at home.
There’s an art to creating effective boundaries around client contact. It can include setting clear expectations right from the start about how and when you’ll respond to messages. And sticking to it! Work-life balance is a two-way street. Use downtime in the clinic to catch up on admin and avoid blocking off consults to run personal errands.
5. Work continues to inspire you
Being a practitioner is a commitment to learning for life! It’s also about spending time with colleagues that nourish your passion and building relationships with others who inspire you.
The nature of our work gives us an opportunity to be inspired by our clients. We’re in the business of changing lives. It’s a privilege to witness their stories and a joy to celebrate their gains.
Burnout, or just being in practice for a long time, can blunt our enjoyment. This is an important cue, so check in with yourself regularly, in order to make changes or take a break before it’s too late.
6. You look forward to work
Acknowledging how you feel at the beginning and end of your work day is a great habit to get into.
Do you feel positive about what will cross your path or go into the clinic with a sense of dread? By the time you leave, do you feel satisfied with your interactions? Or have nagging concerns that you can’t switch off?
Your gut instantly knows the answer to these questions. Check in on work days and listen to it.
Like our clients, practitioners are individuals and sometimes the source is unique — so too finding the ‘cure’. If you’re struggling in practice, it’s time to book an exploratory mentoring session.